Whatever comes of gridlock on Iraq and everything else, here's a rule of thumb: When the flak flies, don't jump into a foxhole with a Republican. Quite simply, Republicans are a menace, at least to other Republicans.
Take Mel Martinez, the Republican senator from Florida President Bush tapped to become Republican National Committee chairman. Best known for cheering on amnesty for illegals by the millions (i.e, for supporting President Bush's "comprehensive" immigration plan), Martinez marked his RNC nomination by baiting some large number of Republicans who would like to see the government secure the nation's borders instead. Equating what he called "border security only" with "harshness only," Martinez referred to Republican electoral losses and said: "It's not about bashing people; it's about presenting a hopeful face." Too bad it's not about presenting a "hopeful face" to all those Republicans Martinez was bashing.
Where can bashed Republicans go? The modern GOP is about as politically correct and prey to special interest groups as the Democratic Party. I say this following a shameful party purge in Florida. There, the state Republican Party, up to and including Gov. Jeb Bush, came down ton-of-bricks-like on two Hernando County Republicans who publicly decried Islam as a "hateful and frightening religion."
Actually, it was Mary Ann Hogan who used the language in a blistering, pre-election letter to Hernando Today complaining about county employees being used to ferry children's games to a mosque celebrating the end of Ramadan (a holiday, she noted, that "Muslims in Iraq" marked by killing more American soldiers than we had lost in a long time). When asked to apologize, her husband, County Commissioner Tom Hogan Sr., steadfastly echoed his wife's opinion: "Overall, worldwide, it certainly is," said Hogan, a founder of the county GOP. "Don't you read your own paper?"
Faster than you can say "Stalinist show trial," the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) called on Gov. Bush to fire Hogan, whose term, as it happened, expired this week. I wish I could report that Gov. Bush, outraged, sent CAIR -- the Hamas-linked group, several of whose associates have been convicted or deported on terrorism-related charges -- packing. But he didn't. He condemned the couple, triggering a chain of condemnations from the state GOP chairman, the Republican gubernatorial candidate (now Gov.-elect Charlie Crist), and, of course, in the local media. The Democratic gubernatorial candidate condemned them, too, and Crist dropped Mrs. Hogan from his campaign organization, Women for Crist. When CAIR calls, the GOP jumps.
Bucking this trend of capitulation, Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (Florida Republican) responded with a vigorous defense of the Hogans' freedom of speech -- a freedom, she wrote, Jeb Bush and Co. were quick to forget -- advising CAIR that its "area of concern should not be focused on the statements of the Hogans, but rather upon the actions of many in your community who created these beliefs." This bold congresswoman (thankfully re-elected) was the GOP exception. The party line demanded the Hogans recant.
The couple refused to apologize for calling Islam "hateful and frightening." I can only say, bravo, Hogans.
Why? Having written thousands of words on Islam, I haven't used precisely the Hogans' language. I have used many other words to refute the comforting but untrue consensus that Islam has nothing to do with the generic "terrorism" that has reduced our liberties, and, by introducing fear into American life, diminished us as a people. I have used many other words to describe the appalling process of Islamization, whereby Europe, via Muslim immigration, is being transformed into an Islamic continent increasingly subject to sharia, the Islamic legal system antithetical to Western-style freedom of conscience and equality before the law, and to urge the United States to amend its immigration laws to prevent the same transformation from occurring here.
Is such analysis "bashing people," as Mel Martinez might say, or something to apologize for, as Jeb Bush might demand? Does ostracizing the Hogans render jihad and sharia, the signal points of contact between Islam and the West, not "frightening" and not "hateful"? Of course not. When the GOP renounced the gutsy Hogans for voicing their apprehensions about Islam it also renounced key teachings on freedom of speech (not to mention logic), and that's frightening and hateful in itself. To be sure, if the Hogans and Ginny Brown-Waite had agreed to mouth the mantra "Islam is peace," it would have made them good Republicans. But it would also have made them lousy in a foxhole.